California Injury Lawyers for Claims in Improper Monitoring and Delay in Delivery
Respected California birth injury attorneys fighting for families
It is important for physicians to monitor the fetus throughout pregnancy to detect any potential complications. During pregnancy and especially during labor and delivery, fetal heart rate monitoring is used to evaluate the well-being of the fetus by assessing the rate and rhythm of the fetal heartbeat.
Electronic fetal monitoring (EFM)
EFM is a procedure in which instruments are used to continuously record the heartbeat of the fetus and the contractions of the woman's uterus during labor. EFM uses special equipment to measure the response of the fetus’s heart rate to contractions of the uterus. EFM can be external, internal, or both.
Benefits of EFM include:
- The ability to recognize the development of hypoxia (when the fetus does not receive sufficient oxygen) by analyzing patterns in the fetal heart rate;
- The ability to monitor the mother’s contractions and their effect on the fetus;
- The ability to monitor the response of the fetus to hypoxia
Electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) keeps track of the baby’s heart rate and helps determine the strength and duration of contractions by recognizing patterns in the baby’s heart rate. If there is an abnormal fetal heart rate pattern, your ob-gyn or other health care professional should take steps to find the cause and take appropriate action. Failure to recognize or address a concerning fetal heart rate can lead to devastating life-long injuries.
Improper monitoring leading to oxygen deprivation
Oxygen deprivation is one of the leading causes of birth injuries. Often, oxygen deprivation to the extent it causes severe permanent injury to the child is a result of negligent medical care. It is often a result of improper or inadequate monitoring, leading to a delay in diagnosis and the appropriate intervention, up to and including delivery if necessary. Lack of oxygen can lead to permanent, life-altering injuries and medical complications for your child.
For decades, the California birth injury lawyers of Heimberg Barr LLP have represented families whose children were permanently injured because of oxygen deprivation. The firm has secured millions of dollars on behalf of these clients. Contact the firm to schedule a free confidential consultation.
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
Permanent, irreversible brain damage is perhaps the most severe side effect of oxygen deprivation. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is the effect on the brain of restricted flow of blood and therefore oxygen to the brain. Because it is often associated with overall decrease in the flow of blood to the baby, it is also often associated with substantial damage to other organs, but the brain is the canary in the coal mine.
Per Seattle Children’s Hospital, there are two stages of severe oxygen deprivation, or birth asphyxia, injuries:
“The first stage happens within minutes if blood flow is low and cells do not get enough oxygen.
The second stage is called ‘reperfusion injury.’ It can last for days or even weeks. This injury happens after the brain starts getting normal levels of blood and oxygen. Toxins released from the damaged cells cause this injury.”
Acts of medical malpractice which can lead to HIE
- Undiagnosed and untreated infections. An undiagnosed and untreated infection can easily pass from mother to child while the fetus is in utero, but it can also make its way into the mother’s bloodstream. If left unchecked, the mother can develop sepsis, a life-threatening inflammatory response, and the baby can suffer severe oxygen deprivation and brain injury. The most common severe infection is an infection of the bag of waters called chorioamnionitis.
- Umbilical cord and placental complications
- Medication errors
- Delayed diagnosis of oxygen compromise often from electronic monitoring of the baby
- Prolonged labor
- Undiagnosed and untreated preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a life-threatening medical condition, characterized by high blood pressure and elevated proteins in the urine.
- Rupture of the uterus
Long term consequences of oxygen deprivation
Aside from soaring medical bills, which may last for the rest of the child’s life, there are other long-term effects that will impact your family.
One of the more common results of oxygen deprivation is lower cognitive abilities. Children who sustained brain damage often have difficulties learning, and may require special education as they go through school.
Children who sustained brain damage from lack of oxygen may have diminished motor skills. Some may have difficulty with gross motor skills (walking, running, jumping) and/or fine motor skills (holding a pencil, blinking, following an object with their eyes).
Speech and communication
Children who were deprived of oxygen may have difficulties learning to speak, remembering vocabulary, or articulating their feelings.
Behavior and impulse control
Oxygen deprivation has been linked to conditions like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and behavioral problems. These conditions may be managed, in some cases, with medication, but they are never really “cured.”
Other disorders, blindness, and hearing loss are other potential effects. Oxygen deprivation is also a cause of cerebral palsy, an incurable group of neurological disorders affecting newborns.
Oxygen deprivation can also affect a child’s physical development in utero. In some cases, it leads to the underdevelopment or malformation of the child’s lungs or heart, called intra-uterine growth restriction or IUGR.
Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
IUGR is a condition in which an unborn fetus is smaller than expected for the number of weeks of pregnancy (gestational age). It is often described as an estimated weight less than the 10th percentile. With IUGR, the baby does not grow well and may affect the overall size of the baby and the growth of organs, tissues, and cells, which can cause many problems.
Some of the factors in mother that can cause IUGR include:
- High blood pressure or other heart and blood vessel disease
- Autoimmune conditions
- Use of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
Factors in baby that can cause IUGR include:
- Birth defects, such as heart defects
- Being one of a twin or triplet
- Problem with genes or chromosomes
Since not all babies who are small have IUGR, an accurate diagnosis is important for affective monitoring and management of optimal time and method of delivery. Failure to properly monitor the development of the baby in the womb and to timely deliver the baby can result in numerous long-term physical and cognitive problems for the baby.
Long-term complications for the baby
- Physical underdevelopment
- Cognitive abnormalities
- Motor and neurologic dysfunction
- Behavioral problems
Why you need Heimberg Barr LLP on your side
The Los Angeles birth injury attorneys of Heimberg Barr LLP have spent decades fighting to protect injury clients. Dr. Steven A. Heimberg, J.D. and Marsha Barr-Fernandez, J.D. have dedicated their lives to helping families who have been devastated by medical negligence. They, along with their experienced team, have helped secure millions of dollars for California families.
The reason they have been so successful over the years is because they have the skills, resources, and experience needed to accurately read and assess medical records, identify patterns of negligent behavior, and dispute medical experts hired by the opposing counsel. They are also able to explain complex medical scenarios and legal concepts to juries in a way that helps them truly understand the losses their clients have sustained – not only in terms of medical costs and lost wages (both current and potential), but also in terms of the financial, emotional, and mental support these families will need in order to have any real quality of life.
Heimberg Barr was named the #1 Medical Malpractice firm by The National Law Journal and has been recognized repeatedly as Top Tier attorneys in Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury by Best Lawyers and US News and World Reports. Partner Steven Heimberg has been named The Los Angeles Trial Lawyer of the Year and has been named Top 100 California Trial Lawyer for the ten straight years. Marsha Barr-Fernandez is named a Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Magazine year after year and has been honored as Top 100 California Trial Lawyers for four consecutive years. When you have a claim for medical malpractice including a claim for improper monitoring and delay in delivery, you will want Heimberg Barr by your side.
Experienced Los Angeles malpractice lawyers handling oxygen deprivation injury claims
Heimberg Barr LLP is an award-winning California medical malpractice and catastrophic injury firm. If you believe your child suffered oxygen deprivation because of medical negligence, please call (213) 213-1500 or fill out this contact form, and schedule a free consultation. The firm clients throughout the state.